On her website, food blogger and photographer Allie Lazar states “Buenos Aires, I’m still hungry,” and although she hates the term “foodie”, her gastronomical passion is evident in the words and images posted online as she works her way around the city in search of a new culinary delight.
Writing in English, her website Pick Up The Fork also attracts Argentine visitors and it was the following comments that instigated hate mail from die-hard pizza fans angry about her opinion.
“It’s no surprise Argentina has the reputation for the worst pizza in the world. Yes, you heard me correctly, like many other foreigners, I do not like the pizza in Buenos Aires. Despite the large Italian influence, and love for the cheesy pie, pizza here consists of rubbery cheese and tasteless dough, no sauce, and very little flavour.”
So the girl’s got an opinion. What of it? Apparently it takes all sorts to make the world go round, and fortunately she takes it in her stride, given that Argentines also, at times, agree with her honest views on eating out in BA.
Lazar admits to being jaded and tired of the usual fare, and that she misses good ethnic food.
“Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian. You can find them all but it is ridiculously expensive. When I go back to the US, the first thing I do is get Japanese food, delicious and under US$10. But here you can’t get anything delicious and if you do, it’ll be expensive.
“It’s also hard to find places that are consistent. I might recommend a place and go back and find the service is terrible, or a different dish is awful. That’s why I don’t go back to the same places and always look for new places.”
Service, or the lack of care that goes into it, is the one gripe I hear time and again about restaurants, and Lazar agrees. “It feels like the staff are doing you a favour. It isn’t service-oriented and maybe it’s because they don’t make that much money in tips… but bad service will ruin a place for me. I don’t mind regular service but mala onda, or waitresses being huge bitches is not acceptable. There are also few restaurants where they know a lot about the menu. I just want to go somewhere and ask them “what best represents this place?” and they never know how to answer me.”
Adding that she believes her standards have slipped — “I think seven is the new 10” — Lazar’s current complaint is the exorbitant price of imported goods.
“Going to Barrio Chino used to be my favourite thing in order to see what new sauces they had in. But it kills me paying so much. Take Tabasco. There’s a new smoky one and it costs 40 pesos and I know it’s US$2 in the US. If I had the best of both worlds I’d have access to cheap kitchen appliances but live here. I’ve had dreams about being in BA but I’m walking into Trader Joe’s.”
Read the original Expat interview with Allie here.